How a Fitbit Helped Boost My Fitness Activity

How a Fitbit Helped Boost My Fitness Activity

I got a fitbit for Christmas. But since our Christmas vacation was delayed this year, I didn’t actually receive and start using it until March.

I have always been opposed to the idea of a smart watch. I don’t really want something attached to my person that is connected to all of my devices. And I definitely don’t want to know every time someone sends me a text, responds to me on messenger or calls me. Sometimes, I want time away from my computer and phone – that’s why I walk across the house and park myself in the living room.

But the fitbit only needs to connect to my ipad in order to function. And since my ipad doesn’t have a sim card, there are no text notifications. I can keep my fitbit as just a fitness tracker and keep my screen breaks intact.

Prior to March, I tracked my attempts to exercise in my digital bullet journal. It’s one of the main habits I try to track each week. I try to track most things in that single central document. Otherwise, I find I just add extra things to my todo list. So I was a little skeptical about an extra thing.

But it turns out, the fitbit has not only helped me keep track of my attempts to exercise, it has encouraged me to keep on track.

It’s hard to stay on a healthy trajectory

Health is a topic I come back to often on this blog. Because staying healthy turns out to be a lot trickier than it seems. It isn’t just about not falling ill. It also involves eating and sleeping habits. And physical activity.

As someone who works at a computer and spends most of her time sitting, physical activity is particularly tricky. When I hit the zone, I don’t have a lot of reason to stop, let alone get up and move around. In order to accommodate focus, I make gathering everything I’m going to need part of my pre-writing ritual. So it’s really easy to stay sitting for two or three hours, unless I need to use the restroom.

I’ve put a concerted effort into healthy eating over the years. (Though the pandemic pretty much trampled it.) As a result of that, I try to drink more water throughout the day, choose healthy snacks and sides and snack selectively. But even drinking extra water doesn’t drive me out of my chair as often as it should.

I have a chronic tendency to forget about the drinks I set in front of me. So I often need to get up and re-heat my coffee. When I started using the pomodoro technique, I used the designated breaks between sprints to refresh my coffee and refill my water when necessary. And that got me out of my chair at least once an hour.

But when I started using my fitbit, I realized that meager activity didn’t amount to much.

Research has shown that standing isn’t really much healthier than sitting. So while standing desks are nice, and I’ve often considered getting one, standing still isn’t much better for you than sitting still. And it’s really hard to type on the run.

Working in an office doesn’t promote movement

The most important part of remaining heart healthy is movement. As part of my regular health routine, I bought a stationary bike. I try to ride it certain evenings during my reading time to make up for how stationary my work tends to be. And some weeks I was fairly good at keeping on top of the habit.

But like many attempts to develop a new habit, it often fell by the wayside. Some weeks I’d be on top of everything, and some weeks I’d give up the first night and just never get back on the train. So some months I had a lot of marks on my activity tracker, and sometimes I’d go two months without any.

My fitbit ended up helping me with both of these things. First, it will measure how many steps I take each hour and allow me to set a goal for how many hours I want to get up and move around. If I don’t get my steps in during the hour, it will vibrate my wrist to remind me to move around. Then vibrate again when I’ve reached my step goal.

It turns out the hourly activity works really well with my pomodoro sprints. During the first break every hour, I get up and wander the house to meet the goal. Then, if I get absorbed in my work for awhile, my fitbit will eventually remind me to move again. The vibration is silent, so it won’t startle me too badly out of my focus. But most of the time, I try to make sure my steps line up with my breaks anyway. (And I usually try not to work for a solid hour straight – that’s bad for your brain and eyes too.)

The automatic tracking keeps me motivated

But the most noticeable improvement in my physical activity since I started using my fitbit is that I ride my exercise bike and do my yoga routines a lot more consistently. Weirdly enough, I think it’s because each round of exercise earns me a little pip in my fitbit tracker.

Probably my favorite thing about the exercise tracker in my fitbit is that I can change it week by week. On weeks when I’m feeling under the weather, I can lower the number of times I hope to exercise in order to avoid pushing too hard. But as soon as I’m feeling better, I can adjust my goals without losing the win I received for the previous week.

For some reason, I really enjoy seeing those little circles fill in. It certainly triggers the reward center of my brain. I’m much less likely to skip out on exercise now that I know I won’t get my little pip than I ever was when I just put a checkmark in my bullet journal. And the best part is that I get to still put all those little satisfying checks in my digital tracker as well.

Best of all, the app keeps track of everything automatically. So I don’t have to do anything extra to keep up with it. So with just a few taps, I have access to tons of information I would have had no way to track before, including my heart rate and how often I raise it enough to enter different zones of exercise. (Which gives me an added goal for riding my bike – achieve a certain number of minutes of cardio!)

As an added bonus, the app also keeps track of how many hours I sleep – mostly accurately. (Every now and then I have to adjust it if I get up in the middle of the night.) Which helps me realize if I start staying up too late.

I don’t expect taking care of my health will ever be particularly easy. But at the moment, I appreciate anything that helps me. And I can definitely count my fitbit among those tools.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.